Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shouwang Church, Iran, Syria's refugees

AP: Raw video frame of PSB breaking up Shouwang service
CHINA Beijing’s Shouwang Church continues to meet outdoors in defiance of the Chinese government’s crackdown on their meeting space. On July 22, Shouwang held the 29th outdoor worship service of this year. It was a hot day. 

At least 16 believers were arrested near the outdoor service platform. Seven believers were released on the way to the police station or sent to sub-district offices directly. Nine believers were sent to three different local police stations. All were released by 6pm Sunday except for an elder sister released Monday morning after 24 hours detainment. 

Shouwang Church announced that it “continues to give thanks to our Lord because He has sustained His church with grace and strength, so we can persevere till today as we see his abundant grace and perfect will in the midst of trials and difficulties. Let us continue to be still and to abide in him, waiting and seeking His guidance for His church, so that all we think and do will be in His will. May peace and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the mercy and love of Father God, and the consolation and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, be with each brother and sister of Shouwang Church and all the churches who remember Shouwang Church in prayers, from this time on and forevermore! Amen.” Source: Beijing Shouwang Church email, 7/24/2012
IRAN - Brother Youcef Nadarkhani is still alive, doing well and very hopeful for the upcoming trial Sept 8th. Neither he nor his attorneys have received any information about his apostasy conviction. They assume he is still under the death penalty until officially notified. The court has still not announced the new charges for his upcoming trial. Continue to pray and spread the word about him. 

Pastor Behnam Irani and family
Brother Behnam Irani is a 41-year-old Iranian pastor serving a 5-year sentence for conducting a Bible Study in his home and convicted in Jan 2011 of crimes against national security. He is an inmate in a notorious prison which is 300 times over capacity. His physical condition has deteriorated under regular beatings by other prisoners instigated by guards. His bleeding condition became so severe last week that he was transferred to a military hospital after becoming unconscious. Doctors identified his pain and blood loss as a chronic ulcer. Pray for Brother Benham’s health as he has a wife and two children. 

Various reports that many men and women are interested in and receiving the Gospel in Iran indicate the revival there is continuing. Iranian authorities think that they can stop the move of the Spirit., but the harder they try, the more people come to Jesus Christ. The Iranian government has no idea they are merely a tool in the hand of God to drive people away from Islam and create a hunger for something else in their hearts. Pray for a widening of the revival in Iran to include many government officials. Source: Present Truth Ministries, Religion Today 7/25/12

BBC: Syrian refugees fleeing into Lebanon
SYRIA - This past week marked the bloodiest set of conflicts since the start of the Syrian civil war with a death toll of around 1,200.  The violence reached a climax over the weekend as President Bashar al-Assad’s military struck back against rebel forces occupying various districts of Damascus, the capital of Syria. Government tanks and helicopters blasted the capital as pockets of rebels roamed the streets. The retaliation of Assad forces on the rebel-held districts of Damascus came after a six-day series of rebel attacks resulting in the assassination of four Assad top security officials last week. The rebels marked their six-day operation as “Damascus Volcano.”

Bill Bray with Christian Aid Mission says the increased Syrian violence is affecting refugee numbers. “What we saw over the weekend especially was just everywhere.... All of the missions and outreaches that we’re supporting in the front-line states are seeing a massive increase in refugees from Syria coming across the border: all kinds of refugees, but especially Christians” reported by EU officials at 115,000.  Workers witnessed the waves of Syrian refugees fleeing by night. “He said it looked like army ants were coming across the border all night. Everywhere he could look, under fences, everywhere there’s a hole, they’re coming across.”

Yet the hope of the Gospel casts a beam of light on a seemingly devastating situation. Christian Aid Mission is providing funds for Syrian refugees to provide humanitarian aid such as food packs and housing, along with God’s Word. “Over the weekend, 20 new believers were baptized, so evangelism is still going on. Church planting and small group Bible studies also continue…devotional fervor is high.”

And in Lebanon, Christians aren’t just reaching out to refugees in their country. While the Turks are allowing Syrian refugees to cross the border to some extent, they’re not allowing any mobilization of the Turkish Christians to reach out to them. But the Lebanese Christians are crossing the border. They are asking us for New Testaments and 15,000 New Testament CDs to distribute, so they are viewing the Turkish refugee camps as an evangelistic opportunity. 

Such an evangelistic opportunity for such a great need, however, requires funding. Bray said, “Just as fast as the money comes in, we’re sending it over. The need is tremendous: the need for housing, rent, [and] food packs. We can feed a refugee family for $90 a week.... And of course, there’s a great hunger for the Word of God. So giving out Bibles; that’s really an important part of the witness.” Pray for the safety and salvation of Syrian refugees and for the safety of evangelizing Christians. Source: Mission Network News